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  • Writer's pictureD Dance

Know Your Non-negotiables!

This month, we have been focused on the benefits of change. And, while change is good and is needed, there are nonnegotiable beliefs that leaders must never waver in or allow to change. Every leader will have their own set of beliefs and ideologies that they hold close, but the following nonnegotiable principles should be universal for every empathetic and efficient leader who aims to be both effective and strategic. And, they are nonnegotiable on every front; you expect employees to adhere to these principles, as well as fellow leaders or superiors.

These are your non flexible, nonnegotiable truths and principles worthy of you walking away from your organization or removing valuable team members if these values are compromised. There is a time to be flexible and a time to be firm, and when it is concerning these principles you are firm and dedicated.

1. Equity

I have made it my life’s mission to make sure that I establish equity everywhere I go and every place that I am called to lead. But, equity is not just a personal preference. When equity is successfully established businesses, individuals, and entire communities benefit and thrive. This is not about winners and losers. This is about the innate belief that everyone should have equal access to success and to have opportunities that prepare them to pursue happiness regardless of their race, sex, or socioeconomic status. This is not optional. It has to be mandatory. And for me, it is two-fold: Equity must be established and accessible where I work, to those I lead and serve and equity must be found in the work we produce as it must provide benefits and resources that again, are accessible to all of those whom we serve.

2. Trust

When I am hired to do a job, I require full trust in my capabilities and direction. I can’t be micromanaged or undermined. Likewise, I refuse to micromanage my team. Trust me to provide the results I promised and give me space and creative range to get it done. The job will get done. If there is no trust, doubt and anxiety can rear it’s ugly head and restrict productivity and create tension that will only serve to deter the organization from accomplishing its biggest goals and solving its toughest challenges.

3. Integrity

Integrity is a clear universal non-negotiable value. When I partner or work with someone I need to know that the following is true:

  • We deliver exactly what we say we will deliver

  • We follow a uniformed code of high standards

  • The work culture established is positive and safe

Again, these are basic solid principles any good leader must have but you have to be firm in the unique qualities that matter specifically to you. Stating your non-negotiables and having them genuinely received and respected is an art. You must let people know what is important to you but you also must know how to insure your values are shared. Do you state it in interview or does that come off as overzealous and pushy? Do you say it in a meeting? Regardless, the “how” is huge! Here is what I do.

Make a counter offer

Every opportunity I am given must provide a win-win benefit. I am going to bring just as much value as they are going to bring to me, and my value is attached with stipulations. I am a fan of revised or counter offers because it sets the tone before your first day of work. It also eliminates wasted time and false hopes because there is not any gray area but clearly set expectations and boundaries. When I accept an opportunity, I confirm:

  • That there is a working system of establishing equity

  • The functions and responsibilities of my role. The expectations I have for the teams I will lead/serve.

  • The track record of success that shows our accuracy and high quality in what we produce.

  • If anything doesn’t fit my expectations I ask for tweaks or to revisit the lacking area within 30 days.

Remove financial focus

People and organizations with great cash flow are eager to solve problems with money. In business or Corporate America, it is not uncommon to voice a complaint or make a request and it be answered with a raise or more opportunities and responsibilities. In most cases that type of increase is always welcomed. But, when it comes to your non-negotiables, make it clear that you can’t be bought. I personally can’t overlook advocating for equity and being valued as a trusted leader for additional compensation.

Live it

I can show you better than I can tell you. A true leader has high standards and through sound leadership will cause others to elevate and raise their own standards. So, walk the walk and talk the talk! And, even when mistakes are made, we rebuild a culture of trust through action. I participate in what matters to me and not just through words or demands but with my actions. I hire diverse, I do equity check ups with my team, and I lead by example every chance I can. There is a time to ask and a time to do. Sometimes when something is lacking you have to fill in that void space and others will follow suit.

Enforcing your non-negotiables is a critical key to your success because once you have established your worth and are valued and supported you will be unstoppable. If you start shying away from what matters to you, your attitude and energy will shift in a negative way. There is no such thing as a positive work culture when the leader loses passion and interest. As a leader you set the tone, not just for those who follow you, but for your day to day and long-term experiences as well. The ability to effectively lead at full capacity requires that your needs be met so that you are in a position to value others. Every opportunity presented and decision maker will not share your values, and I want to emphasize your ability to walk away. Don’t compromise. I have turned down well over thirty jobs and dozens of opportunities because it wasn’t a “good fit,” and that is okay. And, if it is not a “good fit” due to a non-negotiable being compromised, walk away. It does not make you a quitter, less of a provider, you are not too picky, you simply have standards. The more you guard your high standards, the more your reputation will precede you. Eventually, you won’t have to fight for what matters because your values will become widespread and people will seek you out and court you specifically for your values because they share them. There is never a need to settle, go get what you want because you know your value!

If this inspires you and you want more thoughtful commentary and discussions on leadership, success, professionalism, and more subscribe to my YouTube Channel:



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